The words change meaning, that’s normal. But some makeovers are pretty amazing, and when we learn these words now in the online English academy, we have no idea what they meant centuries ago.
1. Alcohol meant “eyeliner”
Al-kohl – this is how the ancient Egyptians called the black powder of the mineral, which eyeliners abounded. Later, medieval alchemists took this word from Arabic books and began to call it the liquid obtained after the distillation of wine.
2. Girl meant “boy or girl”
Previously, the word girl was translated as “boy” regardless of gender. Therefore, when Jeffrey Chaucer wrote in his “Canterbury Tales” about “young girls in the diocese,” he was not referring to girls at all. It’s just that in the 1300s girls and boys were called that.
That all changed at the start of the 15th century, when the English began to use the word boy to refer to servants and people of the lower class. As a result, they started to call boys that way, and the word girl was left for girls.
3. Moment meant “90 seconds”
The word “moment” did not always mean what we called “moment”. Previously it was a clear unit of time: 90 seconds. 40 moments lasted an hour.
4. Cloud meant “stone”
In Old English, the stones were called that. Huge gray spots in the sky for the ancient English people also looked like stones, and they began to call them clouds. In the end, the meteorological meaning won, and now this word is translated simply as “cloud”. And for stones, the word rock has remained.
5. Wardrobe which meant “table”
Now this word is translated as “cupboard”, but before it meant table. This is because in the old days there were no cupboards, so the cupboard was a simple table on which food was placed. It was not until the 16th century that people began to hide food in deep, closed shelves, and the table with the food became a “cabinet”. By the way, the expression skeleton in his cabinet (“skeleton in his cabinet”) was first coined by the English writer Wilkie Collins in 1859.
6. Blockbuster meant “bomb”
This word literally translates to “block buster”. Initially, it was the name of the powerful air bombs during WWII. The first “block-buster” weighing almost two tons was launched by British pilots at German Emden in March 1941. After the war the press quickly adopted the term for anything that has an impressive effect.
7. Conveyor belt used to signify “mill”
Now the most common meaning of the word conveyor belt is “conveyor belt”, but it was originally called a mill. In the 19th century, the device was invented by engineer Sir William Cubitt: it was a huge mill with a mechanism for crushing stones and grains. The prisoners were forced to walk on it for several hours and therefore grind stones. Including writer Oscar Wilde in 1895, while in prison.
8. Bimbo meant “man”
The word bimbo translates to “beautiful”. It was originally used to refer to … men. For example, a child was called a bimbo when they wanted to emphasize that he was rebellious.
That all changed in 1920 when a song appeared in a Broadway musical called “My Little Bimbo Down On The Bamboo Isle”. He spoke of a beautiful and voluptuous woman. Everyone liked this song so much that the word started to be used only in relation to women, and we already know it in the sense of “beautiful”.